The Nigeria Rowing, Canoe and Sailing Federation has rubbished claims that Nigeria’s lone representative at the women’s single sculls event of the 2016 Olympic Games went to Brazil without any assistance from the country.
Secretary of the Rowing, Canoe and Sailing Federation, Mrs. Olubunmi Ola-Oluode, insisted yesterday that Ukogu who was introduced by another athlete has been enjoying the full support of the federation under the leadership of Rear Admiral Festus Porbeni (rtd) since 2015 when she made up her mind to represent Nigeria.
The bewildered secretary revealed that the federation registered her for 2015 World Cup in France and ensured that the International Rowing Federation (FISA) paid for her feeding, hotel, and local transportation along with her coach during the tournament.
She described the cheap campaign on social media purportedly claiming that Ukogu was abandoned was nothing but an attempt to ridicule the federation’s relentless support for her before, during and after every international tournament.
Ola-Oluode was quick to point out that the decision of the federation to set the record straight was not an attempt to downplay the effort of Ukogu who she described as a patriotic Nigerian.
“There can never be an Ukogu competing at the 2016 Olympics without the Nigeria Rowing, Canoe and Sailing Federation under Rear Admiral Festus Porbeni.
“The federation registered her for Olympics qualifiers in Tunisia last October with all-expense paid. The president also paid her allowance for this trip as well. She didn’t pay a dime for this trip,” the secretary revealed.
She explained that the federation gave the athlete a letter of introduction to the United State of America Rowing & Sailing Federation not because they wanted her to use it against the country or the federation, but to get the training, support from her club in the USA since they have one of the best coaches and equipment in the world.
“Immediately she qualified for Rio2016, we got her International Olympic Committee scholarship for ten months, after which the Africa Olympic Commission also gave her scholarship for support towards the Olympics.
“We were together in Swiss, a trip that was sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports. She didn’t pay a dime for her ticket to get to the Olympic.
“All she has gotten has been through the federation. Even when Nigeria Olympics Committee said they had exhausted their slot for IOC scholarship, the federation approached FISA and IOC who directed the NOC to request for additional slot to accommodate her.”
She lauded the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for Ukogu and her personal trainer as she dispelled insinuations that the US based athlete bought her ticket to Rio.
“The Federal Ministry of sports sponsored her to the Games and paid her allowance and that of her personal trainer in full.”
Finally, the federation slammed reports that she abandoned her education just to compete for Nigeria at the Olympics as she emphasized that the federation and the government of Nigeria do not joke with athletes welfare.
“She never abandoned her medical study for any sport. She started her medical school in New York city on the 14th August 2016.”
“She was staying in Philadelphia but now relocated to New York for her studies.”